When ByteDance bought Chinese VR headset maker Pico a year ago, its message was clear: it bets that immersive devices will be where future generations spend most of their time on technical content. number. It’s a marriage reminiscent of Meta acquired Oculus back in 2014, except the world is now in a different place with technological advancements making VR headsets cheaper, less jerky, and more comfortable to wear.
Parent company TikTok has long aimed to compete in a market dominated by Oculus’ consumer VR devices. When Meta launched Quest 2 in 2020, ByteDance was working on a secret internal project to develop AR glasses, The Information. report. Pico’s product launch this week is another sign of its ambition to challenge Quest, which has enjoyed about two thirds of the global AR and VR market over the past two years.
The Pico 4, which starts at €429 (about $420 thanks to the strong dollar) for 128GB and ships to Europe, Japan, and Korea outside of China, has received acclaim in the VR community. It Weighs only 295 grams without a strap and can function as a standalone device but can also be connected to a PC for a more enhanced VR experience. It uses the same Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor as the Quest 2.
“It’s cheap and good quality, with specs that rival Quest 2,” said Gavin Newton-Tanzer, host of the AWE Asia mixed reality conference.
“Very impressed with the weight, comfort, LCD screen, pancake lens, color AR pass-through and controls. All it needs now is a serious triple-A VR exclusivity to differentiate itself from Meta to capture player interest.” write a VR content creator.
Task 2’s specs only “match” not well enough when given the second one came out two years ago and became an instant hit. Pico is not only catching up on the technology front, but also in terms of content and branding.
“The Oculus content ecosystem is more established, providing a better understanding of what consumers want,” says Newton-Tanzer. Such as the famous rhythm game Beat Saber generated $100 million in revenue on Oculus Quest in October 2021.
Pico is facing a chicken or egg problem, the XR expert suggests. Its user base across product lines is currently not large enough that top creators can dedicate themselves to creating games, videos, and other VR content exclusively for its platform. It reported to have sold 500,000 units last year, half of its target. In contrast, Mission 2 shipping 10 million units around October 2020 and November 2021. But without premium content, Pico will find it difficult to meaningfully engage users.
The good news is that Pico has built a solid foothold in China and doesn’t face much competition in the domestic market. Oculus doesn’t have an official presence in China, which means users have to go through the pain of ordering an overseas version, downloading the Oculus app from a foreign app store, and accessing the ecosystem. its global application through a virtual private network like Meta’s servers. blocked in China.
The technology divide could allow Pico time to test and learn in the domestic market before fully launching in the West. US expansion kicked off as ByteDance started building a team for Pico on the West Coastunder Protocol, with a focus on attracting talent in content, marketing, and R&D.